The plant, believed to have medicinal properties, also grows
in all 55 counties in WV, and has been an important source of income in the
state's rural areas for the past 200 years. According to state forester Randy
Dye, ginseng generated approximately $2 million for West
Virginia’s economy In 2011.
Because ginseng is listed on CITES, an
international treaty to protect threatened and endangered species from the
demands of global trade, the West Virginia Division of Forestry is tasked every
season with job to certify every root that leaves the state.
“Ginseng digging season starts on September 1st and it end
on November 30th,” Juergan Wildman of the West Virginia Division of
“It corresponds with when the seeds on the ginseng plant
ripen. They don’t want you digging the root before the seeds ripen because they
want you naturally plant the seeds.”
“You don’t need a license to dig ginseng. As long as you dig
it within those dates we just mentioned, you can dig it legally, but you have
to have written permission if you’re going to go on somebody else’s land to dig
“The dealers have to get a license to sell ginseng to buyers,”
“Ginseng diggers don’t have to do that. They sell it to the
dealers. Once the dealer buys the ginseng out of state they have to bring it
here. We get it weighed and we fill out a certificate for them and that
certificate has to follow that ginseng till its sold.
Now there is one other thing here. You can sell ginseng up
to March 31st; after that it can not be legally sold in this state.”
According to the WV Division of Forestry, possession
of ginseng root is prohibited from April 1st through Aug 31st
without a weight receipt from the Division of Forestry These regulations are
enforced by the Department of Natural Resources.
“And they will write tickets for digging ginseng on public
lands because in the state of West Virginia, it is not to be dug on, state forests, state parks, or other public lands,” Wileman adds.
Additional regulations require each harvested plant to be at
least five years old.
Each year West Virginia
harvest between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds of what is considered some
of the highest quality ginseng in the world, bringing top prices at Chinese